Here at our agency, Blu Pagoda, we just wrapped a major project for a client. It was multiple months, working with multiple teams on the client’s side. It was a project that I put a lot of time into. And it feels a little odd not to be working on it anymore.
I’m not ashamed to say I was somewhat emotional about finishing this project. After all, I had gotten to know many of the project team members personally. We exchanged photos of our kids, shared hopes and goals for not only the project, but also life in general. I believe that forming these kinds of connections helps ensure greater success of a project—we care about and share a deep commitment to the work at hand and to each other. Trust is powerful.
It was pointed out to me on this project that I had a habit of saying “we” and “our”—an indication of the close collaboration of our agency and the client team. Perhaps this stems from an empathetic nature, and certainly from my wish to truly understand our client’s needs and in turn, their clients’ needs. Again, I believe this “putting ourselves in their shoes” also makes for a successful project.
Of course, as with anything you are deeply invested in (whether it is a project or relationship), it can be an emotional rollercoaster ride. But that’s part of being human. And in the end, caring deeply and investing yourself can result in a lot of joy.
Now, back to wrapping up this project. I feel a project conclusion can be just as exciting and meaningful as its start. Here are some ideas for wrapping up a project, whether you are on the agency side or client side:
There’s always a chance that a similar project will come along, and it would be great to have past work or samples to reference. For clients, consider a public folder on your network or a collaboration site such as SharePoint to hold meeting notes, communications samples, key project artifacts, etc. On the agency side, get permission to maintain a secure folder of similar materials, in case the client ever needs to reference them again.
The wrap-up deck.
Chances are you put together a number of slides during the course of the project. Recycle and update those slides into a wrap-up deck that tells the story about the project, including not only the facts and figures, but also who participated and who did what. It will be another helpful reference document for anything that might come up later.
At a minimum ask these two questions: what really worked well on this project, and what would you do differently next time. Send the survey to anyone who may have touched the project, and gather the responses anonymously. If you feel comfortable, include your own thoughts on what worked and what didn’t in your wrap-up deck.
Most projects have a blend of things going well and things going not so well. Of course, the hope is that by and large there is a lot to reflect positively upon. In all cases, it’s important to mark the milestone of completion and recognize the efforts of all involved. Whether it is an in-person party, a virtual event featuring project leaders on video, or a distributed thank-you message, take the time to celebrate the culmination of work.
I’m now shifting gears to exciting new projects at our agency, working with our regular clients and with new clients (who I hope become regulars). Instead of the wrap-up deck, I’ll be sending out our client welcome kit—more on that in a future post.